Gun Control Group Calls For Ethics Inquiry Into Gun Bill

By Melanie Arter | July 7, 2008 | 8:21 PM EDT

( - A gun control group is calling for a House Ethics inquiry into National Rifle Association board members who co-sponsored a bill to give NRA civil immunity.

The Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence delivered a letter to the House Committee on Standards of Official Conduct, accusing House members Don Young (R-Alaska) and Barbara Cubin (R-W.V.) of using their legislative powers to further the financial interests of the NRA, which they serve as members of the board.

"As members of the House of Representatives, Representatives Cubin and Young are each under an affirmative obligation to avoid conflicts or appearances of conflicts due to their NRA position," the letter states.

"They have done precisely the opposite of what the ethics rules require. Wearing their NRA Directors' hats, they have co-sponsored the NRA's 'top legislative priority' and voted for the bill." The letter is signed by Michael Barnes, president of the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence united with the Million Mom March.

According to House ethics rules, members are prohibited from using their legislative powers to further the financial interests of organizations with which they are affiliated.

"General ethical standards and rules restrict the ability of both Members and employees to engage in undertakings inconsistent with congressional responsibilities," the House Ethics Manual states.

"Even the appearance of a conflict may adversely affect public perceptions and confidence. No special advantage should be provided to an outside organization with which a Member is affiliated," the manual states.

The Brady Campaign's letter pointed to a conflict of interest stemming from Young's and Cubin's active support of H.R. 1036, which gives broad immunity to gun manufacturers, dealers and trade associations from civil litigation. The NRA, as a "trade association," would benefit from the measure.

Cubin received notoriety during the debate on H.R. 1036 when she said, "One amendment today said we could not sell guns to anybody under drug treatment. So, does that mean if you go into a black community, you cannot sell a gun to any black person...?" She apologized later.

Last week, the Brady Campaign pointed out a similar conflict of interest in a complaint filed with the Senate Ethics Committee against Sen. Larry Craig (R-Idaho), the floor leader for a similar measure in the Senate.

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